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Mar 20
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Mindful Parenting

Liliana Louca

As anyone who has practiced meditation is likely to know, being able to remain seated and watch the mind without judgment is much harder than it sounds. However, that pales in comparison to the challenges I’ve faced as a parent, as anyone who has helped raise children is likely to know.

I adore my children; indeed I traveled half-way around the world three times to adopt them from Russia and Kazakhstan.  They are amazing beings who stretch my heart and test my sanity on a daily (or hourly) basis.

Perhaps because they are only 14 months apart, or perhaps because they each lived in deprived, orphanage conditions for the first six months of their lives, the arrival of my second child threw myself and my immediate and extended families into an emotional crisis. I lived for a full year at my wit’s end often locking myself in the bathroom to cry or screaming into a pillow to release the sheer frustration I felt.

My lack of centeredness was triggered by an un-relentless list of emotional needs from my children, often conflicting and impossible to meet.  Most of that first year, they would cry hysterically at the same time, each one of them refusing to allow me to comfort the other and screaming louder when I did.  They were frequently inconsolable, would wake one another from naps, refuse to eat, sleep or cooperate or they would simply succumb to huge tantrums.

In near-hysteria I would catch myself and say “Oh, right!  THIS is the moment where I can realize I have been thrown off center and choose to find my seat again.”

It took me a while to make the connection that parenting my children was another form of practice, another opportunity for me to try to hang onto my center (or desperately regain it).  Staying present and non-judgmental (often of myself) when all I wanted to do was bang my head on the wall or get in my car and keep driving was not all that different from staying on the cushion.

I began to see that I was adding to the difficulties we faced by staying attached to a preconceived script of how things “should” be. Eventually, I was able to surrender to the reality of the situation. I stopped trying to “fix” it and simply recognized the emotional needs that were present, including my own, and honored them with compassion and love.

Theodore Louca

Then things started to shift.  Instead of reasoning or distracting my children out of their emotions, I would just hold them and let them cry, scream or yell and say in as loving a tone as I could muster “I hear you are so sad (or angry, or scared).  I understand.  Mommy understands”.  Sanity began to return, calmness, peace, and eventually even joy slowly crept back in

I realized that one of the key issues for all of us was developing the skills to connect emotionally and remain present.  This meant building ways into our family to regain our centeredness each morning, becoming aware of our needs and our internal emotional state and having the tools to express them.  As they’ve gotten older (5 and 4 now) I also want to cultivate in my children an ability to recognize the goodness and beauty in people and an appreciation for the limitless blessings around them.

Through my personal experiences, Shambhala training and my professional experiences as a psychotherapist and an educator, I created strategies to help build these abilities within myself and my children.  Finding them effective and empowering, I’ve begun offering Mindful Parenting workshops and groups through my private practice.  I’ve found that parents are hungry for this type of awareness and approach towards parenting, particularly now, when life is so demanding and fast-paced.

Moving towards mindfulness is calming, empowering and creates sanity in what can feel like an insane job.  Time has passed and my children have grown into stable, joyful, compassionate children.  No doubt we will all continue to be thrown off center for the remainder of our days on Earth, but having the skills to notice it and regain our seat is the best goal I can think of for myself as a mother and for my children as citizens of this planet.

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1 response to “ Mindful Parenting ”
  1. Excellent artilce! Thank you for your mindfulness.

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